Sleep Deprivation



Sleep is an eight-hour peep show of infantile erotica.
—-J.G. Ballard

I have had this terrible habit of coming home from work absolutely exhausted, grabbing the first edible crap from the fridge I can lay my paws on and then tumbling into a deep, restless sleep full of furtive uneasy dreams. I would then wake up late and be up most of the night, only to haul my tired ass back to work the next morning and start the whole sad cycle over again.

So yesterday I worked out a plan to combat this. Instead of going home, I stopped off at the library and did some writing. Then when I came home I was able to get a bit of stuff done and then it was time for bed – a healthy hour to retire.

As I put my head down on the pillow for a restful repose my phone went off. There was a pseudo emergency at work and off I went. Took care of this and that and came back home at about one thirty in the morning.

It’s impossible for me to go right to sleep after I’ve done stuff like that… too hyped up – so I wasn’t able to get back to the lad of nod until somewhere after three AM. That gave me a good, solid, 180 minutes or so of sleep.

The best laid plans…

All day today I was a zombie. It’s that awful dizzy nauseous sick lack-of-REM state where if I close my eyes for more than a blink I start to dream. My mind becomes clogged with brain-freezes and I can’t remember anything important. It scares me more than a little – it is too easy to make a dangerous mistake in a state like that… but I have to go on. There is too much to do and a few hours of missed shut-eye isn’t a good enough excuse to shut it down.

I am so miserable when I’m sleep deprived. I remember reading Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in The Gulag Archipelago when he talked about the worst torture of all was when they simply kept him awake for night after night, day after day. I find that easy to believe.

One of J. G. Ballard’s oddest and most harrowing short stories was Manhole 69 – where a group of subjects were surgically modified so they did not need to sleep any more. It seemed like a good idea – to get a third of your life back. But they all went catatonic, locked in a horrible prison inside their own minds. The human mind can’t stand continual consciousness; it becomes exhausted at simple existence.

So I stumble through the day, trying to put off any difficult critical thinking until tomorrow, and procrastinating on any demanding and crucial projects while I’m in such a state. The day fills with busy work – mundane tasks that I can do in my sleep (which is pretty much what is going on).

Until finally the clock winds down and I can crash. Now is the time. So I’d better stop writing.

See you tomorrow, when I’m worth a bit more of a quality effort.